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Japanese 'bad guy' doing good in China

By WANG XU in Tokyo | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-07 09:32
Kenichi Miura

A "bad guy" actor who is usually free during the Lunar New Year, Kenichi Miura of Japan is having an especially busy time these days in Beijing being a good guy, packing and delivering boxes of relief supplies from his country to fight the COVID-19 epidemic.

In his new role, he was hard to pin down for an interview.

"I'm so sorry," Miura said. "We have just received some medical equipment. I have to sort it out right away."

Later: "Sorry, can we talk another time? I have to make this report tonight."

Eventually, after some schedule shuffling, Miura wedged in a phone call from a China Daily reporter. True to form, he started by apologizing.

"I'm really sorry. We have received a lot of donations recently, but there's not enough people to deliver them to the areas hit by the coronavirus. So there's a lot of work to be done."

Miura is no fair-weather volunteer. When needed, he took on the necessary tasks himself.

He keeps his spirits up by remembering an old saying.

"There is no endless rain, and every cloud has a silver lining," he said, capturing what had impressed him most in recent weeks-the optimism of the Chinese people.

"I saw on TikTok that many people had invented creative ways to dispel boredom during self-isolation," he said. "I really appreciate their courage and positive outlook."

Born in Tokyo in 1963, he came to China in 1997 and got into the film industry by accident. After 20 years, he has established himself by appearing in many top-rated films and TV series, including Back to 1942, John Rabe and Toward the Republic.

With a PhD in international relations, Miura is no ordinary actor.

For one thing, he is arguably more famous in China than he is in Japan.

Because the majority of his roles involve stories about Chinese resistance to Japanese invaders during World War II, people on the street often tag Miura with the label of "bad guy".

"I am not upset about that," he said. "To be honest, I feel happy because it proves that the role I played was successful and remembered."

Miura was in China when the coronavirus epidemic broke out.

"My family worried about me, but they didn't ask me to come home because they knew I wouldn't. Although I can't do much to help personally, I still want to make a difference," he said. "China is my second home."

Through friends in China and Japan, Miura managed to gather some much-needed medical equipment and daily necessities. He sent the supplies to Hubei province.

"China made huge sacrifices to control the epidemic," he noted. "It extended holidays, called on people to isolate themselves at home and delayed the resumption of work, which will definitely hurt the country's economy."

In some ways, it was a repeat of the SARS outbreak in 2003. Miura passed through that trial as well.

"From my point of view, the public's awareness of protection has improved significantly, and the government's responses are also stronger," he said.

"Of course, not all aspects of dealing with the epidemic were satisfactory this time, and further improvement is needed. But that's understandable."

Meanwhile, the role of good guy seems to suit him. He sees an upside to the pandemic, despite its severe difficulties.

"The world has become whole," he said. "We breathe the same air and have a shared destiny. China has shown a responsible attitude toward the rest of the world."

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